Ted’s List of Places to Eat in Isla Vista

(Map Courtesy of Google Maps.)

In my first year at UCSB I gained thirty pounds, lurching from 130 to 160. Despite jogging twenty miles a week and sampling gym machines at UCSB’s Rec-Center, I couldn’t escape the ‘Freshman Fifteen.’ It caught me twice! Even when I ran marathons up the mountains to the north, I couldn’t shake the weight.

Why? Well, when you run, you’ve gotta eat, and Isla Vista’s got hungry people covered. Today let’s look at some dining options near campus.

First, I’m writing for Tropicana del Norte, so let’s discuss their cafeteria. Food is catered by College Fresh, and I can state without bias I’m looking forward to eating there again. When I moved into an apartment for the 2016-17 school year I missed the privilege of having teams of caterers make food for me. The menu changes daily, and if one day nothing appeals to you, you can walk to the back to order hamburgers and the like (or eggs made-to-order in the morning). Grab some toppings and condiments from the sandwich-making materials and you’ve got a meal. I wouldn’t eat here three meals a day seven days a week, but as a staple food-source for college students, Tropicana knows what they’re doing.

Second, let’s review UCSB’s dining halls for anyone who has a dining plan. The dining hall closest to Tropicana Del Norte is probably Carrillo, in Manzanita Village. Carrillo has the widest variety and best desserts, but only soft-serve ice-cream. Ortega and De La Guerra both have hard, scoopable ice-cream (DLG a wider selection). Ortega and DLG are quite close to one another near the Old Little Theater, and of the two I prefer DLG. Ortega offers sushi, but DLG has a build-a-burrito bar. However, Ortega occasionally has sundae bars, chili bars, or other special events I’d recommend over DLG. Check the schedule once school starts. Ortega is also the only dining hall which lets you take a box of food off the premises. (There’s another dining hall, Portola, but I’ve never been there. It’s built into off-campus student housing.)

On campus there are two Subways, a Panda Express, a Jamba Juice, and other assorted eateries, mostly in the University Center (U-Cen). I enjoy Santorini Island Grill, which serves gyros, spanakopita, shawarma, and baklava. I also enjoy the bulk candy bins at the U-Cen student store (not the book-store, but nearby), where you can satisfy your sweet-tooth and pay by the pound.

Anyone who’s been to UCSB before is waiting for me to mention FreeBirds (or, uh, FreeB!rds) World Burrito, which is near Tropicana del Norte on Pardall Road. Many campuses claim to have the first FreeB!rds, but only UCSB touts that title legitimately. FreeB!irds offers burritos, monster burritos, quesadillas, quesaritos (burritos made using quesadillas), tacos, and nachos. Opinion differs on whether it’s comparable to Chipotle, but the nearest Chipotle is miles away and FreeB!irds gives you more food per dollar, I think. Generally a monster burrito will feed a student for a day or two, and I’d recommend splitting the nachos with a friend.

Near FreeB!rds, just outside of school, there’s a third Subway, a Habit burger grill, and a Starbucks. Down Pardall there’s SilverGreens for healthy burgers and vegetarian-friendly fare, and Buddha Bowls for bread-bowls filled with soup or salad. When they scoop bread to make the bowl, they give you the scoop as garlic bread!

Quite a few restaurants serve boba, or bubble-tea. If you’ve never had them before, bobas (bobii?) are chewy little Taiwanese tapioca balls submerged in a drink. You slurp them up with a wide straw. Some people love ‘em, some people hate ‘em. Personally, I love ‘em. Maybe it’s a Californian thing, or a Millennial thing, like avocados.

Anyway, I first had boba at Hana Kitchen. Hana Kitchen sells meat-and-vegetable bowls with rice; I prefer the vegan option, which is soy-based, as the larger sizes are a bit too much meat for me to eat in one sitting. They also have interesting tacos, and taco sales on Tuesdays. Hana Kitchen sells boba and other drink-jellies in a variety of beverages like teas, milk teas, and ice-slushes. The Pho Bistro sells boba in more exotic flavors like taro root, alongside an extensive menu of vietnamese soups and noodles. My favorite restaurant name is Naan Stop, an Indian counter-service restaurant which also serves boba. True to their name, they’ve got great naan.

There’s no shortage of pizza in Isla Vista. The most famous pizza in IV would either be Woodstock’s (which also has a kiosk on campus) or Pizza-My-Heart. Pizza-My-Heart serves pizza by the slice, while Woodstock’s serves mostly whole pizzas and has event nights, like trivia night. Blaze Pizza on Pardall will build your pizza in front of you. If you’d like a more standard experience, there’s a Domino’s near IV Market next to a sushi place, Sushiya.

Finally, desserts. The well-named IV Drip sells coffee and sandwiches, but is most well-known for its ice-cream. The Equilibrium Cafe sells crepes of all kinds. Next to Domino’s, Sweet Alley sells frozen yogurt and candy by weight.

This isn’t an exhaustive list of the restaurants in IV, but I hope it helps you find places to eat with your friends in your first year at Isla Vista. There’s enough variety here for everyone to find something they enjoy. If you see me stocking up on food after a long run in preparation for an exhausted hibernation, say hi, and tell me your favorite place to eat! Did I leave it off my list?

Choosing a College Roommate

Starting college can be nerve wracking. Chances are, you’re leaving home for the first time. On top of that, the only people you’ve lived with have likely been your family. So how do you make sure you find a good roommate when you head to SBCC?

To start off, the very best advice I can give is to be completely honest on your Tropicana Gardens housing application. Know your limits and what you’re comfortable with. Don’t respond inaccurately just because you believe it’s a popular answer or you want to seem cool.

Having a good roommate can make or break your year, so it is extremely important that you find someone you’re compatible with. It does not necessarily have to be a match made in heaven, but it’s important to find people you can actually live with.

Here are some questions you’ll want to keep in mind while filling out your profile questions:

  • Am I night owl or a morning early bird?
  • Do I plan on getting all of my studies done in the room or will I take care of it in the study lounge?
  • Am I planning to go out every weekend or stay inside with a good book?
  • Do I keep things neat and organized daily or do I tend to pile things throughout the room until I get around to moving them?

After thinking that through, now you get to figure out the fun stuff: finding people who have similar interests as you. Once your housing contract is finalized and you are granted access to the online roommate matching, use your Roommate Profile to your advantage to find like-minded individuals. Are you a huge Disney geek? Do you love to take pictures? What’s you’re favorite sport to play? What do you like to watch on TV? Do you enjoy baking tasty desserts? What’s you’re guilty pleasure? Are you obsessed with Pinterest? Have you figured out your major? Write a snappy profile that you think best describes you.

Now, maybe none of this applies to you. Perhaps you have a friend from back home who is also coming to Santa Barbara City College and you’ve already decided to pair off together. This is totally fine, but just do so with caution. Just because someone is a great friend, does not mean they’re going to be the best roommate for you. Be sure to have some conversations about your expectations before moving in together.

Remember, this is the first time you get to pick your roommate, so choose wisely!

For a step-by-step guide on how to use Tropicana Garden’s online roommate matching, click here.

Getting Around your College Town

Trop’s Tips for Everyday Transport

Walk around Isla Vista during the school year and what do you notice? Everyone is trying to go somewhere. One of my favorite things about this beachside college town is the eclectic variety of ways that people get around. The fact that the majority of the UCSB population lives within a few blocks of their school means that a car may not always be the transportation of choice. In addition, the overall levelness of the terrain, as well as many pathways for non-car traffic leaves room for a kind of awesome range of transportation.

In 2011, UCSB was ranked as #3 in the “Most Bicycle Friendly Colleges” list by Huffington Post, and has maintained that ranking ever since. With more than half of the student population choosing bikes as their primary mode of transport, this makes UCSB the college with the highest percentage of undergrad bicyclists (preferred mode of transport) in the country, and with good reason! Isla Vista’s roads themselves have clearly marked bicycle lanes, and a body of car traffic very accustomed to their two-wheeled peers. But the minute you enter the UCSB campus, you’ll be astounded to see the intricacy of the brisk bike traffic.

The 10 miles worth of bike paths begin as soon as you step foot on campus, clearly separated by white and yellow painted markings to indicate lanes, roundabouts, stop signs, and even yields. Bike racks are abundant and strategically placed all throughout campus, and UCSB even employs the on-campus Associated Students Bike Shop for students’ bike repair needs. Having been one of the 14,000 bike commuters, I would highly recommend it. It’s convenient and quick, and living at Trop, there’s no dearth of bike racks, positioned both underground and alongside the building. One huge tip for bikes though: MAKE SURE YOU LOCK ‘EM! A sturdy U-lock will go a long way to prevent bike thefts.

But now you’re probably wondering, what about the other 50% of students? I, after being primarily a bike commuter for 2 years, began looking for other ways to get around. If you prefer a calmer pace of things, walking is another great way to get around, and it doesn’t actually take all that much longer (sometimes bike paths=detours). There are more route options and possible shortcuts as a walker, and you don’t have to worry about locking up your bike.

Sharing the walker’s sidewalk or road will often be the boarder. An increasing number of long boarders, penny boarders, and traditional skateboarders alike are seen to be zipping stylishly around IV and UCSB, the happy medium between biking and walking. The overall lack of hills makes this area a favorite for boarders, and let me tell you, boarding is delightfully enjoyable in addition to being convenient. Like walking, you don’t have to worry about locking or parking, and instead just carry the board inside with you. Other than that, you do see the occasional scooter, roller blade, or (my personal favorite) unicycle commuter, and I’d say whatever your choice of transport, it will be respected. Word of caution to all sidewalk travelers though: Bikes have the right of way, and bike traffic will not stop! Cross a bike path the way you would cross a street.

Now this about covers local means of transport, but what if you want to go further, such as to the store or SBCC (downtown)? Several students (often in their 2nd or 3rd years) opt to bring their car to college. Something to keep in mind about cars is that unless you want to park on the street, parking is an additional expense, both in your residential area as well as on either (UCSB or SBCC) campus. Parking itself can take an additional 10-15 minutes depending on the time and day, but driving is a great option in case of injury or transporting things. Another great way to get around somewhat longer distances is public bus. MTD schedules are available online, or even easier in the ‘bus setting’ in Google Maps, and bus stickers (which allow you to travel for free) are given out to all UCSB and SBCC students at the beginning of each quarter/semester. The buses are generally prompt, safe, and a popular choice for students and residents alike.

The year-round sun in Santa Barbara gives you the freedom to bike, board or stroll to your destination. In addition to being convenient, these are also a great source of quick exercise. Whatever you choose, I guarantee you will appreciate the beautiful setting of your campus as you get around!

Most Bike Friendly College Campuses:

  • http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/04/05/bikefriendly-universities_n_844696.html
  • http://www.bestcollegesonline.com/blog/2012/05/29/10-most-bike-friendly-campuses-across-america/
UCSB Campus Bike Map
  • http://bikes.as.ucsb.edu/campus-bike-map/

I Never Thought I Would Make Friends!


BUTTERFLIES

Today is the day! It’s move in day at Tropicana and I have no Idea why I’m so nervous about meeting new people. It’s funny because I was looking at the big line of new students at SBCC and I was trying to see if maybe I could guess who my roommate was going to be , so I made a game to ease my nerves.I picked out this one girl who looked shy but nice and sweet. Now I’m checked in ,ready to move all my stuff from the car to my room. After all my stuff was packed someone walks into bedroom C , and guess what! It was the girl who I thought was going to be my roommate! I was so happy and excited so I have her a big hug and her name was Marlana.

New BFF

Marlana was now my Best Friend in a matter of 3 hours. All of my butterflies were gone and I was excited about starting school. I was excited about starting a new life 5 hours away from home (I’m from Sacramento) by myself. Lucky for me Marlana has been talking to someone who goes to SBCC and was going to the ice cream social and I decided to go along. I met two more people named Amira and Jess and they were so nice to me and I was excited to hang out with them and get to know them and just become my new family down the road. All in all I learned you can’t go to college and not make friends. There are just too many people who are social butterflies and love to hang out and go to parties. So get out of your comfort zone and make some friends. 🙂

Move In Day

Moving in a day before school is probably not ideal for most but let me tell you that its not bad at all.

For personal matters I did not do TEMPO nor did I decide to move in two days before or early check in. I was quite nervous that I didn’t do any of these things. When I told my friends I was moving in a day before school started they thought I was insane. “It’s not enough time!” they said. As did I.

If you cannot do any of these other options do not fret. Most people moved in the day before. Regular registration began at 9:00 am. While I waited in line to get registered, my family was already loading my things into the suite. By the time they were done I was registered in. Then came the second part of the process: unpacking and organizing. Now this stage may vary depending on some people. Once you are done you’re settled in!

The Tropicana team and RA’s do an amazing job at keeping a light and friendly atmosphere all while making your transition as efficient and easy as possible. If you really feel like you need more time to adjust then by all means look at the options Tropicana has to offer. Diving right in can seem daunting to many people but the transition is more easy going than you might think. No matter which way your new life is just one small step away.

Adjusting

The first week is the craziest week.

There was a surge of energy everywhere I went. I’ve never felt anything like it. Finally going to college makes everyone so excited to go out and meet people. As I walked around the first night every door was open, welcoming anyone who stopped by or walked past. The people are so nice and open to meeting everyone around. Trop is so lively, vibrant and ecstatic. The party never ends. There’s music blasting from three different rooms all trying to compete with each other, people yelling across hallways and shenanigans everywhere I looked.

The events held the first week helped to make friends as well. The first night I managed to meet a huge group of people during the Hypnotist show. The show was hilarious. I haven’t laughed that hard in a long time. I’m not the most social person when someone meets me but I’ve slowly accumulated friends over time just by sitting outside my door! May not be the greatest method but it definitely raises heads.

Even though I moved in a day before I surprisingly adjusted well to my room situation. My roommates and I all immediately clicked and we’re always hanging out which is great. Its always nice to have someone to fall back on even if you’ve made other friends or be like me who clearly does not have enough friends as other people.

Despite having to adjust quickly, the atmosphere I came into made it all the better. I have to remember that almost everyone here is in the same boat as I am. From having to make friends to living with several other people, we are all in this together. Remembering that gives me a sense of comfort.

On Sunday evening I was sitting on my bed looking out the window. The sun was just setting. The clouds were scattered above the rooftops giving them a light orange hue. As I looked too see the last sunset of my first week I realized that this is where I am now. This is where I’m meant to be and its going to be okay.